Connecticut News Service

September 20, 2023Available files: mp3 wav jpg

Pressure mounts on CT governor to upgrade election infrastructure

Kathryn Carley

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the name 'Erlinghauser' as two words instead of one. (11:24 a.m. MDT, Sept. 20, 2023)

Voting advocacy organizations in Connecticut are calling on Gov. Ned Lamont to ensure the state's election infrastructure is ready for the 2024 presidential election.

The groups, including the ACLU and the League of Women Voters, said too many voting tabulation machines are defective and cause delays at polling stations.

John Erlingheuser, senior advocacy director for AARP Connecticut, said they are outdated and unreliable.

"They don't manufacture them anymore," he explained. "They break down frequently. People are having to get replacement parts for the voting machines on things like eBay."

Erlingheuser pointed out the legislature approved a bill allowing the state to borrow more than $25 million to replace the vote tabulators but Lamont and other members of the State Bond Commission must hold a formal vote to spend the money.

Voting rights groups say Connecticut has made some recent strides in improving access to the ballot, including the recent approval of early voting, and the restoration of voting rights to people on parole.

He noted new tabulator machines are needed to support those accomplishments and handle the volume of voters expected for next year's presidential election.

"We have a pretty good history here in Connecticut," Erlingheuser acknowledged. "This will only enhance that and make people feel more confident that when they cast their ballot it's private, and it will be counted."

Election officials said newer, high-speed machines allow poll workers to quickly process large stacks of ballots or handle absentee ballots, which are often folded when received by a town clerk. The current tabulators often jam when fed folded paper, creating long lines on Election Day and potentially leading to the shutdown of polling sites.